Business entry and visa processing continue to be frozen, even weeks after the state of emergency declaration has ended. With a rebound in COVID infections in major cities, the issuance and processing of new visas into the country will likely continue for the foreseeable future. See the current measures with respect to visa restrictions.

The Japanese Prime Minister announced that, effective April 12, Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa will again be subject to more restrictive COVID-19 measures. The new restrictions, which are distinct from and are less severe compared to a state of emergency, allows the Japanese government to place restrictions on designated cities and areas such as requesting that restaurants close by 8:00pm and that citizens from the specified areas refrain from traveling outside of their respective prefecture.

Effective April 1, 2021, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has again extended its remote I-9 verification policy that defers the physical presence requirements of the employment verification process.  Under a policy first introduced on March 20, 2020, the requirement that employers inspect employees’ Form I-9 identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person applies only to those employees who physically report to work at a company location on any regular, consistent, or predictable basis.  If employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions, they are temporarily exempt from the Form I-9 physical inspection requirements, until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.  The DHS announcement of the extension of its remote I-9 verification policy can be found here.

March 31, 2021 marked the sunset on a presidential proclamation that suspended four visa categories of substantial importance to US employers: H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and certain J-1 visas.  In effect since June 24, 2020 and initially scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020, Presidential Proclamation 10052 was extended by former president Trump through March 31, 2021 and left to expire by President Biden.  President Biden’s approach to let the nonimmigrant visa ban run its course is different than his action to rescind Presidential Proclamation 10014, which suspended the issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants outside the United States. Continue Reading H-1B and L-1 Visas, Among Others, Now Available With the Expiration of Presidential Proclamation 10052

On Tuesday, March 30, 2021, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B registrations through its new electronic registration system needed to reach the annual cap, which includes registrations for both the 65,000 regular cap, as well as the 20,000 allotted US advanced degree exemption (or “master’s cap”).

USCIS states in its announcement that the lottery selection process is complete and that the Agency has notified all prospective petitioners if their registrations have been selected, meaning employers are eligible to file a FY2022 H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of the employees for whom selection notices have been assigned.

Continue Reading USCIS Announces H-1B FY2022 Lottery Selection Complete, Selected Petitioners Notified

International travelers are continuing to face Covid-19 entry requirements, however, China has recently announced that it will simplify its visa applications for foreign nationals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, specifically Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the Chinese embassy located in the Philippines, they will be returning to pre-pandemic visa requirements for those fully vaccinated. China officials have also announced streamlined visa procedures for vaccinated foreigners entering Hong Kong.

China continues to restrict entry by foreign nationals, for example, for those entering on the basis of a work assignment. For travelers who are able to be successfully admitted into China will remain subject to relevant Chinese quarantine regulations and screenings post-admission.

The Chinese Embassy in the United States will provide facilitation for visa applicants fully inoculated with Chinese COVID-19 vaccines under the following conditions:

  1. Vaccine must be administered at least 14 days prior to the submission of the visa application, and
  2. Must show proof of the vaccination certificate.

Current eligibility criteria for visa applications will be broadened as appropriate. For example, foreign family members of Chinese citizens or permanent residents, including spouse, parents, children, or close relatives, may submit a visa application for purposes of reuniting with family, or to fulfill caretaker responsibilities.

Finally, holders of valid APEC business travel cards may apply for the M visa by simply presenting the original valid APEC business travel card and an invitation letter issued by the inviting party from China.

The UK Government unveiled its economic recovery plan in a policy proposal entitled, “Build Back Better: our plan for growth”, detailing specific courses of action and priorities essential to the rebuilding and uplifting of the British economy out from underneath Covid-19 and into the post-Brexit world.  In doing so, the proposal sets out a series of reforms that highlight the three core pillars of growth needed to distribute investment and opportunity equally across the four nations: Infrastructure, Skills, and Innovation.  At the core of these changes lies a paradigm shift in the UK’s immigration policy, from the constrained, controlled policies of the past decade, towards a more open, supply-driven approach in which, for the first time ever, the same rules on migration will be applied to both EU and non-EU citizens.

Underscoring the introduction of a new system of work-based immigration is the awareness that the UK needs to compete with the international demand for talent in order to properly address the economic upheaval wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and prepare for their departure from the EU single market. Through a proactive global outreach strategy alongside a series of immigration reforms, the UK can attract and retain this globally mobile, high-skilled migration central to its plans to bolster the international competitiveness of its high-growth innovative businesses.  To this end, the reforms announced include:

  • Introduction of an elite points-based route to attract top talent to the UK so as to maintain its status as a leading international hub for emerging and disruptive technologies;
  • Creation of a ‘scale up’ stream within the new points-based route that will allow those with a job offer at the required skills level from a recognized UK scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa;
  • Reform of the Global Talent route by expanding the criteria in Spring 2021 so that global prize winners automatically qualify and which will be broadened by Autumn 2021 to include winners of scholarships and other elite programs for early promise;
  • Review of the Innovator route to promote those with the skills and experience to found innovative businesses in the UK to obtain a visa – the conclusions of the review will be set out in the Innovation Strategy in Summer 2021;
  • Launch, by Spring 2022, a single sponsored Global Business Mobility route for overseas businesses seeking to establish their presence or transfer staff to the UK;
  • Support small firms who are navigating the sponsorship system for the first time;
  • Modernize the immigration system by streamlining sponsorship processes. The UK Government will publish a delivery roadmap in the summer; and
  • Expand the Global Entrepreneur Program, actively market our visa offerings, and explore building an overseas talent network in global talent hotspots.

As we are expecting that the UK Government to continue publishing additional guidance on these changes, please continue to follow our updates on or blog, The Mobile Workforce.

 

The Government of India has implemented a recent change concerning the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) scheme.

A summary of the changes is provided below.

OCI cardholders:

  • Do not need a visa to visit, live or work in India.  However, they must now obtain a special permit to undertake: research related activities; missionary, journalistic, Tabligh or mountaineering activities; an internship in any foreign Diplomatic Mission or foreign Government organization in India or to take up employment in any foreign Diplomatic Missions in India; or to visit any area in India that is declared as protected, restricted or prohibited.
  • Remain exempt from registration with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in India.  However, they must now inform the FRRO or FRO via email when there is a change of residential address or occupation.
  • Will be considered as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) for all India entrance examinations or tests for admission into institutes of higher education. They may also be considered for any supernumerary seat, but will not be eligible for seats reserved exclusively for Indian citizens.
  • Will be treated on par with “foreign nationals” with respect to all other economic, financial and educational fields not specified in this new notification or in other notifications issued by the Reserve Bank of India under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999.  Earlier OCI cardholders were treated on par with NRIs rather than foreign nationals for the purposes of economic, financial and educational rights.
  • OCI cardholders continue to remain on par with Indian nationals with regard to tariffs in airfares in domestic sectors, entry fees to visit national parks, national monuments and museums in India.   OCI cardholders continue to remain on par with NRIs for the following:
    • Inter-country adoption of Indian children subject to the compliance of the procedures as laid down by the competent authority;
    • Purchase of sale of immovable properties other than agricultural land or a farmhouse or plantation property; and
    • Pursuing professions such as doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists; advocates; chartered accountants and architects in India as per applicable statutes.

The following restrictions remain unchanged:

  • The OCI program is not for individuals who are from Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • OCI cardholders are not permitted to vote or eligible to run for public office or hold government jobs.

Please continue to follow our updates on or blog, The Mobile Workforce.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (“MoM”) recently announced additional revisions to the dependent pass legal framework.  Starting May 1, 2021, dependent pass (“DP”) holders will no longer be able to rely on a Letter of Consent (“LOC”)  to seek work authorization, and will instead be required to obtain their own work passes.

Currently, dependents of Employment Pass, EntrePass or Personalized Employment Pass holders may qualify for an LOC and receive work authorization.  Starting from May 1, 2021, employers hiring DP holders will now be required to apply for a work pass for these candidates.  These applications will be subject to the eligibility requirements and qualifying criteria for those pass type classifications.

Those with LOCs may continue working for the same company until the expiration of their existing work authorization; however, renewals will no longer be available after May 1, 2021, and employers will be required to apply for a regular work pass to ensure continued work authorization.  Some exemptions to the job advertisement requirement may be granted as this could be treated as a conversion of a pass type for an existing employee. It is expected that the local authorities will be issuing additional guidance on or about May 1.

These recent changes signify MOM’s ongoing commitment to continue promoting the development of a strong Singaporean workforce as part of its Fair Consideration Framework.

As the MoM will be publishing additional guidance regarding the administration of these changes, please continue to follow our updates on or blog, The Mobile Workforce.

The Canadian federal government has made a series of announcements regarding travel, quarantine, and testing requirements for travelers arriving by air and by land.  These new measures form part of the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of new, more contagious COVID-19 variants feared to be introduced by travelers from overseas.  As of the date of this writing, the requirements are as follows.  Changes are being announced on a regular and frequent basis without advance notice, so please check for the latest requirements before booking or commencing travel.

Continue Reading Canada Implements Pre-and Post-Arrival Testing and Quarantine Requirements

Today, on “Immigration Day,” the Biden administration issued a series of executive orders relating to its major immigration policy priorities, including: (1) revising the “public charge rule,” (2) rebuilding faith in the legal immigration system, (3) implementing a humane migration and asylum system, and (4) creating a task force to reunite migrant children who were separated from their families under the Trump administration. In remarks made at the signing ceremony, President Biden stated that he is “not making new law” but unraveling prior administration policies.  Continue Reading On “Immigration Day,” Biden Signs Orders to Reverse Prior Administration Policies